Give me one good reason why you're not currently looking for a better job. (It’s a trick question – there aren’t any good reasons.)
The top two reasons people don't actively seek career advancement are 1) "I'm happy with my current job"; and 2) "I don't have time." Both are bogus.
No matter how good your current job is, there could be a better one just around the corner that will lead to more money, more satisfying work or a better work situation (such as working from home). I don't care if you're a Victoria's Secret talent scout -- a better job is out there. When you’re not actively looking for a career move, superior jobs will come and go without you ever even knowing it. The "I don't have time" excuse isn't valid either. I'm going to tell you how and where to set up automated job searches that take only minutes per week of your time. (By the way, if you’re so busy you can’t job hunt, then, well, that's yet another reason why you need another job.)
So stop making excuses, and put your job hunting on auto-pilot. Here's how:
1. Get jobs via e-mail
If you read this column regularly, you know I'm a big fan of set-it-and-forget-it information retrieval. Information about possible career improvements is no exception. A wide variety of free services will e-mail you job opportunities that may interest you. As a bonus, you'll tend to get them immediately, while the majority of other users will see them only later when they get around to visiting the site.
Some of these services let you set up searches based on a range of specifics, including location, salary range, and more – then they e-mail you new jobs that match your search.
Here are sites that e-mail jobs to you:
2. Set up a job-hunting RSS feed
You can have multiple RSS readers running on your system, so regardless of whether or not you already have an RSS reader gathering news, it makes sense to set up a dedicated RSS feed that delivers to you relevant job opportunities in one central place, and check it daily – or keep it running all the time. Here are sites that let you set up detailed queries, then have them delivered via RSS:
3. Post your resume
This tip is old school, but it makes sense to post your resume online. Once posted, you can forget about it until the information on your resume changes. Who knows? Maybe somebody will call you with the ultimate opportunity.
Here are sites that let you post your resume.
4. Join Linked-In
Linked-inis an awesome service. Once you set up your network and invite a few colleagues, it takes on a life of its own. You can recommend your colleagues and former co-workers to others in your network, and that motivates them to recommend you. Linked-In shows you when people in your network are hiring -- getting a job with someone you have a connection with is much easier.
Best of all, Linked-In communicates you via e-mail, so it's a set-it-and-forget-it social network, for the most part.
5. Send a regular e-mail to all colleagues
It's not what you know, but who. Keep a list of everyone you've worked with, met or who might be in a position to recommend you for a better job. Set up a twice-annual note in your Calendar to "touch base" with everyone on the list and remind them you're out there. If you don't schedule it, you probably won't do it.
I don't recommend a blatant, "I want a better job" message, but a more subtle "this is what I'm working on these days -- what are you up to?" note in the spirit of keeping each other abreast of your careers.
When something comes up, you'll be more likely to be top of mind. And don't forget to help the people on that list get jobs. As you keep your automated feelers out there, you'll run into job opportunities that may not thrill you, but might be perfect for someone you know. Don't fail to forward them to friends and colleagues. The more you help them, the more they'll help you.
These five tips go a long way toward automating and reducing the time it takes to constantly search for greener pastures.
Don't forget to also creatively search for similar functionality (e-mail alerts, RSS feeds, etc.) at job sites that cater to your specific profession.
And sign up for separate alerts for every city that you'd be willing to move to if the right job came along -- don't limit yourself to your present location.